East West released from 3-year-old enforcement order on BSA compliance

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The Federal Reserve has terminated a 2015 enforcement action with East West Bank over deficiencies with its anti-money-laundering and Bank Secrecy Act compliance.

Under the original order, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco required East West, of Pasadena, Calif., to submit a revised plan and hire an outside firm to run an independent audit of its BSA/AML compliance program, among other actions. The regulator said on Tuesday that it had terminated the order.

“We’re pleased with the resolution of the written agreement with the regulators,” said Julianna Balicka, the bank’s director of strategy and corporate development. “It was a lot of effort on our part, but we feel comfortable that our new BSA/AML system that we have in place is very robust. Importantly, it’s going to be able to take East West to the next level as it continues to grow and become a more complex bank.”

East West had previously said it had been working on these issues when the San Francisco Fed’s examination turned up problems with its compliance program.

Analysts told American Banker at that time that the deficiencies identified by the Fed weren’t related to specific accounts, but more generally to its compliance procedures.

East West did not have to cancel any customer relationships as a result of the order and the Fed’s examination did not reveal any customers involved with money laundering or drug trafficking, they said.

The $38 billion-asset East West Bancorp has made significant internal upgrades to address these issues. The company increased internal its audit staff, doubled the size of its compliance team and tripled the number of staff working on BSA issues to 120, Chairman and CEO Dominic Ng said in an interview last year.

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